A Macedonian Call
"Are we making a trip, Dad? Why are you studying all those maps?" Valerie knew that maps usually meant a trip somewhere.
"Well, Val, you and Amy, Mom and Dad may be moving to Indonesia. See Indonesia, this big country just south of the Philippines? Millions of people there need to hear the Gospel too. Don’t you think we Andersons should go and share Jesus’ Good News with them?"
"All of us, Dad?" asked Ben. "What about me? I thought I was getting ready to go to Nasuli School like Hope did. Would I go to Indonesia too?"
Dad explained, "It looks like we pray–starting now. Let’s see how God opens the door. I received this letter from a Christian named Berhitu:
‘Dear Brother Anderson,
Why don’t you come to Indonesia and help us? We want to spread the Gospel here too.’
Kids, we call that a ‘Macedonian Call’. Do you remember the Bible story about the apostle Paul, when he didn’t know which direction to go to preach the Gospel?"
"What did he do, Dad? How did he know where God wanted him to go?" they asked.
"God sent Paul a special kind of dream. In the dream a man from the country of Macedonia was calling out to Paul: ‘Come over and help us!’ Paul packed up right then and set sail for Macedonia. He won hundreds to Jesus there because God really wanted him to go. Let’s pray and wait. Indonesia might be our Macedonian Call, OK?"
From that day on each of the Andersons kept looking for the Indonesian "door" to open. The kids talked about what Indonesian kids ate and liked and sang, and what games they played. Ben thought very hard because maybe he would have to stay behind in the Philippines while the rest of the family went to Indonesia. But each of the family members believed that Jesus died for the whole world, and since missionary work meant new places and people, they thought about going...at least, when they were not playing with their Filipino friends!
The door did open...v-e-r-y slowly. In 1973 Val was already 9 years old, Amy was five. Ben had already finished Grade Six, a big 12 years old now. The family felt lonely when he moved to Nasuli, the school for missionary kids. Then In October the Andersons boarded the Bouraq plane bound for a city called Manado. When they came down from the plane, many people smiled and greeted them. But, oh! "Mom, those strangers are speaking words we can’t understand. What are they saying? Is Manado going to be like this? We won’t be able to play with the kids because nobody knows what we are saying. They just smile and shake hands."
At the first big house where they slept, another girl name Katarin stayed too. She was not like other kids. She walked kind of stumbly and she only kept calling, "A-my! A-my!..." all the time. Amy and Val felt nervous when Katarin would come around. Katarin did not know how to play. When Val and Amy tried to play, Katarin just kept calling out, "A-my...A-my...!" "What can we do with Katarin" Val asked Mom.
"Just be nice to her. Smile. Try to show her something she would like. Don’t worry. There will be other kids. Jesus loves Katarin too, doesn’t He?"
"Oh, Mom, of course He does...He loves all the children in the world!"
The Andersons moved to the next block, to a rented house. It was wonderful to be together in their own house, just their family, to eat food Mom cooked, to have Family Devotions again. In the girls’ bedroom Val chose the top bunk. "I’m bigger and I won’t fall out on the cement floor," she said. The toys were unpacked and they began to play.
But one afternoon a bunch of noisy kids came running up the street from the market. They were chanting, "A-my! Val-ry! A-my! Val-ry!" Over and over. They leaned right into the open windows. They rattled the doors. They threw little stones at the glass windows. They circled the house and chanted until Mom and the girls hid inside the eating room because it had wooden windows. Still the kids kept shouting and chanting. One moment it suddenly became quiet. Mom looked into the frontroom and there she saw snails, big, oozy garbage snails, inching across the floors and up the walls. The kids had gathered them to toss into the open windows. Several days they came and chanted because "A-my, Val-ry!" was all they could communicate. The girls didn’t know even one of them and Mom couldn’t chase them away either. She didn’t know any word those kids would understand. It was not funny.
Later at Devotions they talked about Jesus’ words: "Let the little children come unto Me and forbid them not..." Ha! So Jesus knew all about noisy market kids too! And He loved them. Even when the girls walked outside with Mom and Dad, kids gathered, and oh, how they could pinch! A pinch with a twist that hurt so. Val and Amy tried not to cry, but they felt so sorry the kids were not friendly.
"Living in Manado sure isn’t the same as the Philippines." School went on every day with Teacher Mom making lessons. Word by word Amy and Val began to speak Indonesian and they were so quick! Mom and Dad studied from books, but Amy and Val just began playing with Joyce and Engeline across the street. Somehow they talked together! What fun then! Two other sisters on the corner, Nopha and Nening, made good friends–it was now like a gang almost since Amy and Val spoke the words the other kids used. No more pinching and pulling hair.
"Mom, do think we could have a VBS in our house for all our friends? I would teach Bible stories and use the pictures. We have an Indonesian Bible–we could copy verses for the kids to memorize...could we, Mom? Could we even have refreshments like juice and that sweet, chewy ‘balapis’ that the kids like so much? Oh, could we, Mom?" Val begged. So when school was over, the schoolroom became the VBS room. Kids flocked in to sing choruses from the song sheets. They really listened well when Val taught the stories. "They had to listen, Mom–I told them no snacks if they make noise." They were sharing Jesus.
They learned to play Main Goro, Chinese jump rope, jumping high over rubber bands strung together. All the neighborhood kids took turns jumping knee high, then hip high, then waist, chest, top of your head–even one hand above the head. Anyone who had a long string of rubber bands, played Main Goro, and every minute without lessons, or when Mom and Dad worked with students and visitors...the girls gathered friends and jumped! It was missionary work that kids could do!
The Andersons’ house was now a busy beehive most of the time, almost like a Youth Center. Besides the girls’ pals jumping rubber bands outside, many, many high schoolers and college students dropped by for meetings, for prayer, practicing songs for evangelistic meetings with Dad which took place every night. These young Indonesians began to speak boldly of Jesus Christ as their Savior, witnessing to everyone, all around Manado.
The Macedonian Call for the Andersons was Berhitu, the Indonesian man who wrote the letter to come and help Indonesia hear of Christ. Now day after day Bible Studies continued. Teams of youth volunteered to travel to other islands reaching their people with the Gospel, hiking far and facing persecution, even taken into jail sometimes. They became "heroes" for their faith. Jesus was calling them to preach the Gospel to everyone, teachers, parents, pastors, officials, complete strangers because, "Indonesia needs Jesus Christ as Savior!"